Objective This study examined associations between mothers’ and fathers’ depressive symptoms and their parenting practices relating to gun, fire, and motor vehicle safety. Methods Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), a nationally representative sample of children birth to age five, linear probability models were used to examine associations between measures of parents’ depressive symptoms and their use of firearms, smoke detectors, and motor vehicle restraints. Parents reported use of smoke detectors, motor vehicle restraints, and firearm ownership and storage. Results Results suggest mothers with moderate or severe depressive symptoms were 2 % points less likely to report that their child always sat in the back seat of the car, and 3 % points less likely to have at least one working smoke detector in the home. Fathers’ depressive symptoms were associated with a lower likelihood of both owning a gun and of it being stored locked. Fathers’ depressive symptoms amplified associations between mothers’ depressive symptoms and owning a gun, such that having both parents exhibit depressive symptoms was associated with an increased likelihood of gun ownership of between 2 and 6 % points. Conclusions Interventions that identify and treat parental depression early may be effective in promoting appropriate safety behaviors among families with young children.
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The reported sample sizes are rounded to the nearest 50, per NCES regulations regarding disclosure of restricted-use data. Asian and American Indian children, twins, and low and very low birth weight children were oversampled.
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Taryn Morrissey had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis, and does not have any conflicts of interest that might be interpreted as influencing the manuscript. Katie Vinopal provided excellent research assistance. Participants at the Society for Research in Child Development Special Topics conference in April 2014 provided helpful comments.
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Morrissey, T.W. Parents’ Depressive Symptoms and Gun, Fire, and Motor Vehicle Safety Practices. Matern Child Health J 20, 799–807 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-015-1910-z
- Maternal depressive symptoms
- Paternal depressive symptoms
- Firearm safety
- Fire safety
- Motor vehicle safety